Saturday, January 31, 2009
One thing I actually did accomplish this week: I got the letter written. The letter to my birth mother - or, to the person who I believe to be my birth mother. I wrote several drafts. Okay, who am I kidding? I wrote about a hundred drafts. I don't think I've ever edited something so much in my life, but I wanted it to say just the right thing.
It had to be non-confrontational. It had to be friendly, but not too friendly. Appreciative and informative, but not creepy. Heartfelt but not maudlin. It had to give her the facts about how I came to believe she is my birth mother without calling her a liar. It had to make her want to tell me the truth.
Do I have high hopes for the letter? God help me, but yes, I do. I know there's a good chance she'll not reply. Or she may answer, only to deny it again. I guess there's an outside chance that it really isn't her, but I don't believe that.
Still, I want it to work. I want it so much it hurts. I want her to call me, or write to me, and give me the answers I've been seeking for such a long time. And, if I let myself be honest, I want her to want me in her life. Somehow. Some way. Any way.
It's a lot of pressure to put on a letter. Is it up to it? Who knows? It's out of my hands now, literally. My postal carrier picked it up around 10:30 this morning. I sat at my dining room table and watched as she took the letter out of my mailbox and tossed it into the plastic bin with all the other bills and birthday cards and no-postage-required envelopes.
Now, there's nothing to do but wait. And pray.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
One of the teams getting hooked up. They get so excited, it usually takes several people to help.
This is big brother giving Alex's dog Jamie a hug for luck.
The orchard where the teams came through with two miles to go.
It was a long and tiring weekend, but everybody had a good time. The best thing about this sport is the family-friendliness of it all. Everybody is willing to help everybody else and there are smiles everywhere you look. And I love that my kids are outside when so many other young men (and young women) are sitting on the couch in front of the tv or playing video games. Temperatures ranged from 7-25 degrees over the weekend, and they were outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and loving it. I'm a proud mom - can you tell?
Monday, January 26, 2009
Enter Fate. Plans? Out the window.
I had a quick no-more-than-one-hour errand to run at 10 this morning. All I had to do was drive about 4 miles from my house, complete my appointment, and drive home to blog away. Sounds simple, doesn't it?
And yet - NOT SO SIMPLE.
When I left my house to go get in my car and go, I noticed that one of my tires was a tad low on air. The tire that was still under warranty. The tire that was just repaired LAST TUESDAY, when they told me it was all fixed. No problem. I'll just stop and put some air in it on my way to my appointment, I thought quietly to myself. Except that the air pump at the only station between my house and my appointment was OUT OF ORDER.
No reason to panic. I'll go to my appointment, and get some air afterward, I thought, still quietly to myself.
After my appointment, I came out to my car and checked the tire. Flat. Really REALLY flat. Well, it was flat on the bottom, which I figure is the most important place for it not to be flat. Okay, I thought, still pretty quietly to myself, let's check the spare. I found a spare (one of those donut tires) but no lug nut wrench and no jack. My thoughts were now getting a little bit louder and there were some cuss words thrown in.
I called AAA (that was the best thing I ever spent money on, let me tell you) and they said they'd have someone there in less than an hour. Did I mention that it was 16 degrees outside? And that I had less than 1/8 of a tank of gas?
An hour and a half later, the tow truck guys show up, check out my tire (it's flat. imagine!) and my donut tire (never been used, will be fine!) They put the donut on and go away to another call in another town about 30 minutes away.
After they left, I start out on my way to the place that fixed my tire last week, planning to give them a piece of my mind and insist they REPLACE, rather than repair, my tire. I drive about one mile, and I hear a noise that I don't like. At all. A BAD BAD noise in the area of my pretend donut tire. I stop - there was no place to pull over - this is rural Maine, and we've had 3 feet of snow. We have road and we have snowbanks. No breakdown lanes, no pull-off areas.
The donut is flat. THE DONUT TIRE IS FREAKING FLAT and it has separated from the rim. I can put my whole hand between the rim and the tire. Okay, now I'm mad. It's cold. I'm hungry and thirsty and I have already spent too much time sitting in my car. My Ipod battery is dead, I have nothing to read and people are staring at me as they drive by. I hate that.
I call AAA back. I may have gotten a little tiny bit hysterical with the guy who answered the phone. He puts me on hold (I bet it says in the AAA manual: Put hysterical women on hold for a while to see if they calm down) and calls the tow truck guys back. They're way far away, and have to rescue someone else before they can come back and help me. The AAA guy calls me sweetie and says, don't worry, they'll be back within about 40 minutes and things will get better.
An hour and a half later, the tow truck guys come back. They seem happy to see me. The little one says, I guess the answer to your earlier question (will this donut thing get me to the tire place?) should have been no. I chuckle in the gotta-laugh-or-I'll-cry kind of way. Actually, I did cry a little bit right before they showed up, but I pulled it together for my tow truck buddies.
They suggested that they tow me to the tire place, and I refrained from saying WHAT THE EFF ELSE CAN WE DO ANYWAY?????
At the tire place, they said, gee, we're sorry, we'll get it taken care of right away, and it will be about 30 minutes or less.
Two hours later, my tire is REPLACED. BRAND NEW. AT NO CHARGE. They are really supposed to pro-rate the tire in this situation, subtracting for mileage on the tire, and making me pay for the portion that was already used up, but they didn't. Their generosity may have had something to do with my red-rimmed eyes, my hunger-induced shaking hands, or the way that I stared at them for the TWO FREAKING HOURS it took them to change ONE FREAKING TIRE.
Seven hours later, I'm back at home, curled in a fetal position, wondering how my one hour errand turned into an all-day ordeal. I'll try to get to the weekend update tomorrow morning, but tonight I'm going to get into my jammies and try to forget that today ever happened. Hope your day was a lot better. I'm going to spend the evening catching up on all I've missed out in the blogosphere.
Friday, January 23, 2009
There's a big dog sled race happening this weekend, and this time it's near my house - only about 30 minutes away. The good news is: CHEAPER! No motels, no expensive restaurant meals, no huge travel expenditures. It's also better when the dogs can sleep at home. They rest better in their own individual spaces, rather than in the truck, where they share with another dog.
The (sorta) bad news is that I end up hosting people at my house, and it sometimes is a lot of people, and I have to feed these people (and find beds for them). The boys are racing, though, and that makes them very happy. If anybody reading missed the part about us having a kennel full of racing sled dogs, you can read about it, and see photos here.
I'll be pretty busy over the next couple of days - at the race both Saturday and Sunday - but I'm going to try to take pictures with my new camera, and if they turn out well at all, I'll post some of them here.
To update you on the whole birthmother thing, I don't have a lot to report. I wrote her a letter. Actually I wrote several letters. It's harder than it seems it would be, to write a letter to someone you believe is the person who gave birth to you, even though she denies it. Some of the letters ended up sounding accusatory or bitter, and that's the last thing I want to do. One of them seemed a little whiny, and another one a bit too needy. I may be overthinking the whole thing, but I can't help it. This letter could possibly be the one thing that changes her mind and convinces her to reach out to me, even just a tiny bit. Or it could scare her away forever. That's a lot of pressure on a letter. I want it to be just right.
One last note. I have to thank you (again) for all the amazing comments. I went back and re-read some of the comments from right after I made the call - when I was the most despondent - and I realized you made some really good points. Your support is fantastic, and your advice is pretty darn good, too. It's a wonderful bloggy world, and I'm glad you take time to stop by here. It makes me smile, and that's worth a lot.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
So, instead of writing a new, inspirational post, I dug up this story that I wrote about something that happened back a million years ago when I was in college. It is my go-to story. It ALWAYS makes me chuckle a little bit to myself. I hope you enjoy it.
When I was in college, a terribly embarrassing thing happened to my friend. I was a witness to this thing, and let me tell you, it was pretty bad. At the time, I was in absolute sympathetic horror for her, but as the years have past, it has turned out to be one thing that can always make me smile in remembrance. I am sharing it with you in hopes that it will make you smile, as well.
My friend and I, being young ladies of a certain age, decided it was time to go get ourselves some birth control. Not that we needed it, of course. Well, okay, we did. Or we were going to need it very soon! We were both in our first year of college, and giddy with the freedom of being away from the family doctor (who was completely un-trustworthy and would certainly have tattled on us to our mothers!).
At the University, there was a oh-so-inviting Student Health Center – essentially a basement under the Arts and Sciences building – where you could get health screening, diagnosis and care FOR FREE. And nobody would tell your mommy.
After a month or so of getting our courage up, we set off – me to get signed up for THE PILL (because I was all about the “NOT EVEN A TINY CHANCE YOU COULD GET PREGNANT” part of the contraceptives). My friend, Cindy (not her real name – well, not exactly her real name) was very concerned about the possible weight gain she might experience from birth control pills. And she was a lot more adventurous than I. Cindy wanted A DIAPHRAM.
We tried to pick a time we thought the place might be deserted. Friday afternoon seemed like a good bet. Everyone would be busy getting dolled up for the weekend parties, out finding someone over 21 to buy beer, busy filling the frat bathtubs with ice, you know – typical college stuff. Unfortunately, we were completely wrong. Turns out Friday afternoon was filled with desperate students. Some were those who had been sick since Monday, hoped it would go away, and were finally coming in to get some real medicine because they called their mom and she told them to get their butt to the doctor. Some were, like us, in for the super-secret birth control reconnaissance and not happy to find out the place was packed. PACKED.
Picture, if you will, the dark, scary basement of the Student Health Center. The all-fluorescent lights gave a yellow pallor to the place. This was back in the pre-HIPPA days, when the receptionist’s idea of confidentiality was not to shout out your last name, only your first. Anyway, this stellar establishment was set all in one big room, with chairs forming a U-shaped waiting room on one side, The other side consisted of three curtained stalls, for lack of a better word. No walls. Just curtains. Curtains that didn’t exactly meet. We stood there and stared, open-mouthed in horror, for a few minutes until the receptionist finally greeted us, “Can I help you two?”
We stammered out our names in stage whispers, one at a time as the other one of us snuck glances to see two things: one – did we know anybody there, and two – did anybody notice us? Nobody we recognized. So far, so good. Instructed to take a seat, we did, sharing one chair so that nobody had to sit in between strangers. Solidarity was all we had.
The wait was long, filled with really old magazines, trying not to look anybody in the eye, and avoiding being seen looking at the STD posters too long (heaven forbid anybody suspect that’s what we were there for!) Cindy and I had a hushed conference where we decided to try to exhibit head cold symptoms so that people would assume we were sick. I thought this a brilliant plan and proceeded to sneeze and sniffle for the next hour.
I got called first, and submitted to a fairly humiliating exam (hello, stirrups!) and thanked heaven repeatedly for the butterfly mobile on the ceiling (you gotta have something to look at), the female nurse practitioner who did the exam (a little Nurse Ratchet-y, but she was a girl!) and the fact that I got the curtained cubicle on the end, farthest away from the waiting area. I got my coveted pills, along with the disappointing instructions that they were not effective for 10 days (there went my weekend!) and some brochures for the prevention of a bunch of diseases I had never heard of before.
Cindy got called in just as I returned, red-faced to the waiting area. I wanted to bolt, but, being a loyal friend, I settled down in ‘our’ chair to wait. I picked up a two-year old copy of Good Housekeeping magazine and pretended to read. Cindy had the misfortune of getting the middle curtain, which was much too close to the people for my liking. There was a gap where two of the curtains met, and though you couldn’t really see into it, it was a gap, nevertheless. I felt totally sorry for her, but, looking back on it now, that was just the beginning of her troubles.
Her nurse practitioner was also a female, but she was very very old. And hard of hearing. The entire waiting room could hear one side of a very personal conversation. And Old Nurse was of the school of thought that the patient was soothed by having her describe everything she was doing. In great, gory detail. Imagine all the things your gynecologist says. Now imagine that there is just a curtain between you and 15 of your peers. Boys, even. Now, honey, just scoot your bottom a little closer to me. Now relax your muscles a bit. I’m going to insert this….well, you get the idea.
This is where it gets ugly.
After the exam, Old Nurse began counseling Cindy on her chosen form of birth control. She described how it worked, and gave a lot of instruction on how to use it properly. All of this was completely audible to all of us in the waiting area. Did I mention that some of the guys were smirking and chuckling at this point? I was horrified to hear that Old Nurse was also going to insert the device a couple of times for demonstration purposes and then have Cindy do it herself to make sure she knew how. The minutes spent listening to Old Nurse’s instructions were some of the longest of my life, and I desperately concentrated on my magazine.
Then it was Cindy's turn. Now, for those of you who may not have used a diaphragm, let me take a moment to explain the device. It is a round, dome-shaped rubber thing, with a metal spring in the rim. In order to insert it, you have to squeeze it from the edge between your thumb and forefingers, essentially making it skinny enough to fit where it has to fit. Once it has been inserted, it springs back into its round, dome-y shape, sealing out the swimmers and preventing pregnancy. The spring is pretty strong, so you have to really squeeze hard to make this all happen.
Oh, and did I mention that you have to put a bunch of slippery spermocide on the rim of it first? Now, don’t get ahead of me…
Evidently, Cindy had a little trouble with her turn at the thing. The reason I know this is that after a couple of minutes, while I assumed she was giving it a try, something terrible happened. It must have been too slippery for her inexperienced hands. The lovely pink diaphragm flew through the opening in the curtain, past the people sitting in the middle of the waiting room, and hit the wall. THWACK.
That bugger could really fly.
The looks on everyone’s face could not be described, but they all stared, first at the little pink evil thing, which clung to the wall for a millisecond before it fell to the floor behind the magazine table. Then they stared at the wet mark on the mint green walls.
Then, almost as if they were all given a signal, their gaze shifted to the curtained area where my dear friend could be heard muttering something unintelligible (my best guess was something like dammitalltohell or something along those lines).
The silence was deafening. For a really long time.
The rest of the afternoon was a blur. I don’t really remember much about it, but Cindy tells me I rushed to her aid and gave up my hooded jacket so that she could escape relatively incognito. Oh, and she also ended up with a little paper bag of birth control pills.
I never, ever cracked even a little smile that day, nor did we ever, ever bring it up again until we were both out of college and married. A few wine coolers brought the subject up many years later, and the laughter that should have happened that day finally spilled out of us until our sides ached.
Sometimes I think that was the day that cemented our friendship. After you share that experience with someone, you’re bonded for life. To this day, Good Housekeeping magazines and mint-green walls still make me smile.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This costume was my pride and joy. My grandmother made it, by hand (no sewing machine!) and it took her weeks. I LOVED it so much and I think I still have it packed away somewhere.
Monday, January 19, 2009
I was feeling a bit uninspired for a blog post, so I thought I'd take care of a couple of tags I received. I got tagged by several people for the same two things. I'm still learning about tags and awards and such, so forgive me if there is supposed to be a time period in which to respond. Is it like thank you notes - you have up to a year to do them? If I messed up, I figure I can always claim ignorance (for at least a year, right?)
One of the tags was to post the fourth photo in my photo folder, and tell the story behind it. I have a lot of photo folders, so I just went to the one on my desktop, which is the first one I see, and here is the photo:
This is my oldest, Brandon, dressed up like a pirate. I should probably say that this was for Halloween, but it wasn't. Brandon works as a camp counselor and lifeguard in the summer between college semesters, and also works part time at the YMCA, lifeguarding and running the Teen Center. He loves to work with kids, and does stuff to make things fun for them. At camp, every Friday is theme day, and everybody is supposed to dress up to match the theme. He usually goes all out, and the kids love it. For two years in a row, he begged me to make him a real pirate coat for his Pirate Theme Day, and finally, I gave in and did it. I was pretty impressed with myself. The only problem was that as soon as it was finished, he started asking for pirate pants. Brandon is a goof ball, but the children adore him. He'll make a great teacher someday.
The other tag was about listing ten random/honest things about myself, which I've done before, so we'll see if I can think of 10 more:
1. I used to dance ballet. I took lessons from the time I was 3 until I was 14, and I was pretty good. When I got to high school, I decided I'd rather chase boys than dance. Not my finest decision, that one.
2. I can juggle scarves. I'm pretty good with them, but it does not translate into me being able to juggle anything that falls at a faster rate than scarves.
3. I'm a grammar and spelling freak. I was a journalism major in college, and my mother was an elementary teacher specializing in Language Arts. I obsessively proofread everything (except sometimes my own stuff) and find mistakes everywhere. It's like a hobby. Only creepier.
4. True crime fascinates me. I watch all those shows - American Justice, Forensic Files, Snapped, 48 Hours - and I don't want to talk about what that says about my personality.
5. I'm terrified to fly. I've done it a number of times, and will do it again, but I hate EVERY SINGLE FREAKING MINUTE of it.
6. I'm also scared of rodents, lightning storms and bees.
7. There are some kid movies on my list of movies I can watch over and over again - including The Incredibles and Holes. If you haven't seen these movies, you should.
8. I'm starting to feel a little empty-nest-ish. My oldest goes to college, works two jobs and has a girlfriend. Guess how much I see him? The younger one is very busy, as well, and is making plans to spend next summer somewhere besides home. I know the purpose of parenting is to have them leave, but truly? I miss them.
9. I'm allergic to beer. No, really, I am. Actually, I'm allergic to hops, which, I've been told, is what they make beer from. I only found this out because I had the full battery of allergy tests done (many years ago) and the doctor told me. The good news is that I hate the smell and the taste of beer, so it's not an issue.
10. I am NOT allergic to Bailey's Irish Cream. Or Kahlua. Or Vodka. Or whatever they put in Cosmopolitans, in case you were wondering.
Friday, January 16, 2009
I thought I had considered just about every possibility, but this is one I hadn't covered - that she would be the one, and would deny it. I thought about her saying, "yes, it's me, but I don't want to have anything to do with you," but somehow, this is worse. I think it's worse because it leaves every one of my questions unanswered. She is the only one who knows the truth. She holds all my medical information. She is the only one who could tell me who my birth father was.
I thought I was a wee bit obsessed before (although I think we all established that I am NOT a stalker!) but now I'm positively crazed. I've devised about a dozen plans-for-action, and then discarded them. I think I will probably write her a letter, in a non-threatening way, and let her know what exactly I'm looking for. I want to reassure her that I am not planning to disrupt her life and that I only want some information. I don't need to have a relationship with her (although to be honest, it's what I've been dreaming about for such a long time).
Today I went down to the Portland library again to do some more research. It turns out the grumpy people I talked to last time I visited the library were not the whole story. I found a wonderful guy there (Hey, Abraham!) who helped me find yearbooks for Portland High School. I figured out approximately what year my birth mother would have graduated from high school, and I looked her up. It turned out to actually be just that simple. I found her photo in her senior yearbook. Abraham, who, as it happens, is a kick-ass Canon camera expert, helped me set up the yearbook on a stand, and got me a tripod for my new digital camera, and messed with the settings to get me the best possible shot of her photo.
I couldn't stop staring at it. I must have turned the camera on a hundred times just to look at the picture again. Do I look like her? I think I do, a little - especially the eyes. I am SO tempted to post the picture, but I don't think I can. This woman obviously wants to forget I ever happened, and although I doubt she'd ever find out, I think I shouldn't invade her privacy that way.
I guess I just have to wait. Wait for this horrible feeling I'm experiencing to pass. Wait for the courage to write the letter. Wait for her reply. God, I hate waiting. In the meantime, I'll try to be grateful for all I have - because I do have so much more information than I had such a short time ago. It's quite amazing, really. Two weeks ago, I didn't even know her name. Now I know her name, and that she named me. I know a little bit about her family. I think I know that she's alive and where she lives.
And I have her picture.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Hallie called me afterwards, and told me what she said. And I said, "she's lying."
Some of the details that she told Hallie did not jibe with facts that I have discovered through various records checks (marriage & death records, the obituary that I think is of my grandfather, and others). So I called her. I can't believe I did it, now that I think about it, but I just picked up the phone and called.
When she answered, I told her a little bit about what I was doing (searching for information) and she again denied everything. But when I pressed her on some of the facts, she got very flustered. EXTREMELY flustered. And suddenly remembered that she was late for an appointment. She said, "I just can't talk to you anymore about this right now" and then she was gone.
I think it's her. I really do. But she's obviously not ready to deal with me or the situation. To be fair, as several of you have pointed out (and as Hallie keeps saying), I've had a lot of time to prepare for this. I've been working towards this, waiting for this, dreaming and praying for this for a long, long time. She's had about 24 hours.
Still, I'm absolutely crushed. I'm trying not to be, and I feel stupid for being so hurt. I knew all along how this could go. But it's how I feel. I wasn't even going to post - Hallie said you all would understand - but you've been so amazingly supportive to me, and I wanted you to know what's going on.
I'm not going to give up, but I need some time to regroup and make a new plan. I feel really crappy, and I've got a migraine coming on - my first in over a year. Thanks for all the incredible comments. I appreciate each and every one of you more than you could ever know.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Yesterday afternoon I went over to Hallie's house and we made the call. To be completely accurate, she made the call and I sat there with every nerve ending in my whole body screaming at the same time. And there was no answer.
We strategized a bit first about what she would say, and whether I would talk to her if she wanted me to get on the phone. I gave Hallie the information and the phone number, and she dialed. It seemed to ring forever - although it might have only been 4 or 5 times - and an answering machine picked up. Hallie left a message, giving her name and number and saying that she was trying to find a person with a maiden name of whatever, born in 1935, and was looking for information and would she please call back.
When she hung up, I stared at her. What did her message say? What did her voice sound like? For the first time, I wished I had been the one making the call. That way, I would have heard her voice. Hallie - bless her heart - repeated several times her description of the voice that she heard and what her answering machine message said.
Then we sat there for three hours and waited for the phone to ring. Every time it rang, my heart stopped, but it was never her. I kept asking Hallie - and John - why they thought she hadn't called back. We covered all the possibilities we could think of - she was call screening and was now freaking out, she was not the person we were looking for and thus didn't feel the need to call back, she was out playing Bingo or at the lady's auxiliary meeting, she had just left to spend the winter in Florida, she had been mugged and was tied up inside her house. John's opinion? She wasn't home. That man can definitely be the voice of reason. And he makes a kick-ass cheeseburger (which he stood outside at 10 degrees F to grill for us!)
I guess it doesn't matter why she didn't answer or call back. The bottom line is that we don't have any new information to report. If we don't hear back, we'll call again. And again. I guess at some point, if we have to keep leaving messages, I'll have to let her know why we're really calling and pray that she will at least talk to me briefly. She's the only one who can verify whether or not she is my birth mother, and, if she is my bio mother, she's the only one who knows who my birth father was.
I thought I was jittery before!?! I had no idea. I've been warned about the roller coaster of emotions, but I'm pretty sure I need some Dramamine, and maybe some other pharmaceuticals, too, if I plan to survive this ride.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
So, since I don't have anything to report about THE THING, I figured I'd update you on how all the As Seen On TV product testing went this past week.
For those of you who missed it, the original post is here.
DEBBIE MEYER GREEN BAGS - As an experiment, I bought a bunch of bananas and put half of them in the DMGB, and the other half I left in the basket I keep on my counter, and left them there for a week. I am thrilled to report that the bananas kept in the DMGB were in MUCH BETTER SHAPE after 7 days. They actually looked just perfect for eating. Which someone did. So I didn't get a picture. You'll have to take my word for it, and I haven't gathered a LOT of evidence yet, but I'd have to recommend these. If they work this well on all the other produce, they're worth it. I have brocolli and mushrooms in bags right now, so we'll see how those hold up. These bags will come in really handy during the summer when I have more fresh fruits and vegetables around.
THE SHAM-WOW - I have wanted one of these things forever. I can't tell you how excited I was to try it out. I have to tell you, though, that Sham Wow Guy is a BIG FAT LIAR. First of all, who would have thought that you would have to read the directions on a SHAM WOW??? I mean, it's a rag, right? What exactly would the instructions say, "use like a rag?" Silly me. Have you noticed on the commercial, when Sham Wow Guy says, 'you can wash them right in the washing machine' and they show them being thrown into the machine? Well, evidently, you can wash them in the washer, but you're not supposed to dry them in the dryer. 'Cause if you do, this is what happens.
New, thick ShamWow on left. Washed and dried, much smaller, much thinner, much less thirsty Sham Wow on right.
Friday, January 9, 2009
At this point, there's really only one way to find out.
So, it's time to make that call. Well, ALMOST time to make the call. I'm this close to being ready. There's no way I can do it myself - and actually, they (you know who THEY are, right?) do not recommend that we adoptees make the call ourselves. It's too emotional, and freakin' scary! The risk of being rejected - again - is a terrifying prospect. Imagine what it would be like to call and say, "are you my mother?" only to be told, "yes, but I don't want anything to do with you."
Talk about a complex. That's all I need.
So, enter my good friend Hallie. She's offered to make the call for me. Isn't she the bomb? She has done this before, and says she's up to the task. I believe her. So, sometime soon, it will happen. We've even strategized a bit on when the best time of day and what day of the week would be best. I haven't actually told her that I think I'm ready, but, well, she reads my blog. So, Hallie, I think it's time.
My stomach is all in knots just thinking about it, but I think that is why it has to be done, and soon. I can't live like this, and heaven knows, everyone around me is probably getting sick and tired of all the melodrama! So, wish me - us - luck.
You know what's funny? It's times like these that I really wish my mom were alive. I never had to worry that she would reject me. She loved me unconditionally. And if this thing turned ugly, she'd be there for me. She would be a great person to talk to about this. I'll leave you with this poem that I found on another blog that deals with adoption. It mirrors my own opinions exactly.
This short poem by Rita Laws was first seen in OURS: The Magazine of Adoptive Families (now Adoptive Families magazine):
Four Adoption Terms Defined
Natural child: any child who is not artificial.
Real parent: any parent who is not imaginary.
Your own child: any child who is not someone else’s child.
Adopted child: a natural child, with a real parent, who is all my own.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I'm happy to report that I have now used all three of the fabulous new As-Seen-On-TV products that I received for Christmas. Since there was so much interest in whether they actually work or not, I will dedicate my weekend post to a review. I even took pictures of my initial attempt at the Pancake Puff Maker. I will spill all the secrets that Billy Mays and Sham Wow Guy don't tell you on TV.
Yesterday, we had a storm that started out as snow, and ended as snow. Unfortunately, in the middle it was sleet and freezing rain, and the roads are horrendous. I'm lucky enough to live on a fairly main road, but even on my street, the little traffic there is - is crawling. This concerns me because I need to go to the store; although, to be completely candid, I'm sure we could survive here on canned and frozen goods for a couple of months or more. I just don't WANT any of that stuff. The cats are also dangerously low on food, and there is nothing more annoying in this world than a hungry cat. Except 3 hungry cats.
Am I the only one who gets up at 5:30, even though I don't have anywhere to be, just to make sure my 16 year old gets up and on the school bus? I got him a new alarm clock for Christmas, but I don't really trust him to hear it and do what he's supposed to do. Plus, I've noticed that when he first gets up, before he has time to put on all that teenage boy bravado, he's kinda warm and fuzzy to his mom. Don't tell anybody.
Maybe, after I get Alex out the door, I should go back to bed. Except I am always completely awake by that time. Maybe I'll look at all my paperwork again, and perhaps this time it will all make sense. Or I'll get my afghan and lay on the couch and watch movies. Or I'll go online and update my resume for the billionth time and find the perfect job. Or I'll make myself some Omelette Puffs (yeah, you heard me) for breakfast.
Gosh, all of a sudden the day is filled with possibilities.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I headed down to Portland to the giant public library there to look up some obituaries and old phone directories, hoping to verify some of the information I got from the search angels.
On the way there, I just happened to accidentally drive past the address that may - or may not - be the address of my biological mother. It wasn't really out of my way. No, really, it wasn't. It was only a few blocks away from the library, and I totally could have just gone that way by chance.
Okay, well, I didn't just go there by chance. I looked it up on Mapquest and drove by there on purpose. When I saw the house, with its big iron numbers on the front, my heart started beating a little bit faster. I drove by slowly. Very very slowly (sorry, Pepsi delivery truck behind me). And for a minute, I fantasized about just knocking on the door. Of course I didn't do it (can you imagine the headline: Adoptee Stalker Causes Bio Mother to Have a Stroke - and this state is so small, and so little happens here, this would completely be a front page deal.)
I know what you're all going to think, and you're right. I may be a little bit crazy. I just couldn't resist. My birth mother might live there. I think the fact that I recognize that this is a tad stalker-ish is an important step in the road to my recovery. Well, isn't admitting you have a problem the first step? Is there even a 12-step program for stalkers?
Anyway, I digress. (I've always wanted to say that.)
I went to the library. It is a lot bigger than the library that I normally use. And the people at the desk? Not as helpful. The librarian at my library (Hi Mike!) knows my name, and remembers all the authors I like, and saves out anything new by them so I get to be first! The eleven hundred people working at this library couldn't care less if I exist.
I found my way to the research section, got a lesson in microfiche from someone who was forced to assist me, and got to work. You know, it seems to me that a world that can put a man on the moon and invent velcro could figure out a better way to store old newspapers than putting them on a teeny tiny film strip which can only be read by a ginormous clunky machine designed mostly to make anyone using it go blind.
So, after a thousand hours, I found what I was looking for. Sort of. Unfortunately, the information I found doesn't exactly match the info I got from the search angels. So, now what do I do?
I think my plan is going to be this: I'm going to take the 22 tons of paper I have accumulated during this search, including all the stuff the searchers sent me, and take it over to Hallie's house. We'll spread it all out, and make charts and diagrams (I LOVE charts and diagrams - does anybody remember Alice's Restaurant, with the 8x10 glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one?) and figure this thing out. Hallie, as you may already know, is an EXPERT at this. And she loves company. I'm sure she won't mind. Who else wants to come?
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
There are people who are associated with the group (OBC for ME) who volunteer their time to help people separated by adoption find their biological family members. They call them Search Angels. These people have access to a myriad of databases - old phone directories, social security, driver's license databases, marriage and death records, as well as a bunch of databases that I didn't even know existed until now.
Over the weekend, I decided to put my information out to the search angels. My thought was that it probably took months; after all, there are hundreds of people with any given name, and dozens of people here in Maine who all just got their original birth certificate. How quick could it possibly be?
It turns out, it might not be that long. Within 24 hours, I was starting to get emails from one of the searchers, then from two. They were working together, searching for my birth mother in every database they had. The first thing we found out was that it appeared that she got married, in Maine, almost exactly one year after I was born.
They also tracked her through census info and something called the Polk Directory and found the names of others living in the same household as the address she gave on my birth certificate. We almost certainly found relatives of hers who lived at her address in 1959, one year before my birth.
The information was coming fast and furious at this point. New last name. A second marriage. Another last name. Two daughters. Parents and grandparents. Driver's license with a physical description that matches. Evidence that she had a certain job, which matches my non-identifying info. Of course, none of this is confirmed - it's only certain that someone with her name existed at various points. It's kind of like following a trail of bread crumbs during a wind storm.
But, the final consensus of the search angels was that she's alive. And we've found her.
Oh my God. She may be alive and living only 40 minutes away. I have an address and a telephone number. The telephone number of my biological mother.
What the hell am I going to do now?
What I am not going to do is grab the phone and make a call. Not yet. I am planning to spend today attempting to confirm some of the info that I have. I'm headed to Portland to the library, where I can verify certain facts through phone directories and obituaries. I need time to process and need to feel a little more confident that I have the right person, although I may not be completely sure until she says, "it's me."
I know I'm not ready yet. I need some time to process all of this. I had no idea it could happen this fast. I know what you're all thinking - she's been waiting for 48 years already; why isn't she already on the phone? It's a good question. Anybody got a good answer?
Monday, January 5, 2009
My name, given to me at birth by my biological mother, was Marjorie Ann.
When I opened the envelope and unfolded the piece of paper that was my original birth certificate, that was the first thing I saw. Marjorie Ann (and the last name) was at the top of the document. I was confused (and I was reading through very watery eyes!) and at first I thought this was my birth mother’s name. After I read a little further, I saw that her name was something else, and that Marjorie was me.
Whoa. That was weird. IS weird. Here is a piece of paper which has the TRUTH about me on it, and it seems altogether wrong. I’ve waited all this time to get this information, and now it’s freaking me out.
They told me that my birth mother was not required to name me. Evidently, if you were planning to surrender your child, the child could be called Baby Girl Whatever, and then your adoptive parents could give you your first and only name. Some of the time, though, the birth mothers did name their child, and that’s what happened to me.
So Marjorie it was – for just a short time, and then my parents switched to Mary Ellen, and the rest, as we all know, is history. I keep looking at the paper and reading it over and over. I even asked a couple of people to call me Marjorie so I could see how it sounded. It sounded wrong. I have nothing against the name Marjorie, but it’s not my name. I do hope the fact that she named me means she cared a little bit about me.
I guess the name falls into the same category as most of the rest of my childhood – my birth mother gave me life, and a little bit of a start, and then my parents took over from there.
Mary Ellen must be my name – it’s what my Mom used to yell to get me to come down for dinner. It’s what my Dad said when he wanted me to play the piano for him. It’s what my teachers called me, what the priest baptized me with, and what it says on both of my diplomas.
And – most importantly of all – it’s what my friends call me.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
So I decided to tell you something you probably don’t know about me, and it has to do with commercials. And infomercials.
I am the original “As Seen on TV” slut. I am totally fascinated by many of the products that are sold through commercials or infomercials. I know, I KNOW. I’m not proud of it, but it’s time for me to step out of the closet. It’s safe here, right?
When I see some of those products demonstrated on TV, I wonder – even if it’s just for a minute – whether it would really make my life better. Would I be ever so much more beautiful with mineral make-up? Would my house be so much cleaner if I had a steam cleaner thingy or a carpet-sweeper that swivels 360 degrees? Would we really eat so much better meals if I had a famous-ex-boxer-grill or a weird-flat-sandwich-cooker or a bizarre-plastic-dome-that-cooks-roast-beef-and-brownies-at-the-same-time?
Now, before you get all worried that I’m sitting up at 3 in the morning with my credit card in hand, ordering crap from late-night television, I assure you that I’m not. Even before I became unemployed, I was always pretty careful about what I spent my money on, so I rarely buy this stuff.
I do, however, think about it, and I often try to convince other people to buy my current product obsession so that they can tell me all about it. When it comes right down to it, I just want to KNOW. Does it really work like that in real life? I was so excited when Hallie got a Ped Egg so she could tell me about it (it turns out it’s totally as disgusting as it looks on TV).
I did once purchase the Magic Bullet – which, if you’ve never seen the commercial, is a small counter-top blender, and where have you been hiding? – and I love it. It really does a crapload of little blending tasks, and only takes up the tiniest of counter space. Oh, and my younger son (the fitness nut) owns one of those gym things that hook into a door frame and allow you to do chin-ups for hours directly in the main path of the house until someone threatens to strangle you.
Other than that, I’ve mostly just been wondering. Until now.
Somebody loves me. Actually, several somebodies. This year, for Christmas, I received not ONE, not TWO, but THREE fabulous as-seen-on-TV products. Products I talked about at length, evidently. Who knew that if you bothered people enough, they would eventually buy you something to shut you up?
I am now the proud owner of:
Debbie Meyer Green Bags – food storage bags which promise to make all your fresh produce survive MUCH longer. I plan on picking strawberries in July and serving them at Thanksgiving.
The Pancake Puff Maker – a coated cast iron pan that makes any of a billion different yummy foods, and makes them perfectly ROUND. Round food, as we all know, has less calories (calories can't cling to the sides - they fall right off).
The Sham-Wow – Which is a cloth that soaks up 20 times its weight in spilled liquid and will reduce my dependency on paper towels. I can't wait to spill a two-liter on the rug - fun times.
I can’t wait to see if they really work. And, yes, for those of you who are wondering, this makes me weird and a little pathetic. But I don’t care. I’m going to make fresh fruit-filled round pancakes and wipe up any mess I make with my new miracle cloth. It’s going to be a great weekend.
Friday, January 2, 2009
I was at the Vital Records office when it opened, although I waited a bit to go in. The crowd of people and TV cameras were a little intimidating. I sat in the car and breathed deeply for fifteen minutes until I was ready to go in.
I have to say that the state had done a really good job streamlining the process, and it was pretty simple. I waited in line to pay my $10, and then went to the line in front of A-L (by adoptive last name). I showed my receipt and my notarized form (they never even asked me for my amended birth certificate - the one I risked my life in a snowstorm to get!). The very nice lady checked me off a list and handed me a sealed envelope with my name on it.
I promptly burst into tears. I know - lame, right? But, in my defense, I was NOT the only one crying. I stopped to chat very briefly with a couple of people from OBC, and then went out to the car, where I opened the envelope.
I'm not ready to put all the information out on the web just yet. I have to just BE with it for a while, but I wanted you to know that I have almost everything I was hoping for.
I know my birth mother's name. I know her address at the time I was born. I know my given name, and I know she cared enough about me to give me a name, which she was not required to do. There is no birth father's name listed, which is disappointing, but it was also expected.
I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do next, or when I'm going to do it. For today, I'm going to keep looking at this simple piece of paper, which says so much about my origin. I'm probably going to cry a lot more. And I'm going to thank God for answering my prayers.
I'll think about what's next later on, after I've gotten my bearings again. I'm so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to answer some questions I've had for a very long time. I'm also grateful to you for your support. Your encouragement has meant so much. Please don't go away. I think I'm going to need you for the next leg of the journey!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I expect a lot of other people will be there, as well. There are a bunch of folks who have secured hotel rooms in Augusta for tonight (they got a block of rooms through the OBC for ME group) just to make sure they can be there bright and early in line. They're getting together for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow to lend support to each other.
I thought about joining them, but in the end decided to go it alone. I'm not ready to talk about how I'm feeling with the others - not yet, anyway. I know I keep spilling all my emotions to you in the blogosphere, but somehow that's different. I feel like I know most of you, and I know, through your amazing comments, that you support me. I can't tell you how much your bloggy love means to me.
I'm crying (again) as I write this, and I don't know exactly why, but I know they're not the bad kind of tears. I've cried more in the last day than I have in a long, long time, but I can't seem to stop. I'm so close to something I've dreamed about for most of my life. And I'm absolutely terrified about what I'll find, and even more scared about the next steps I'll be taking.
Still, I'm excited, and I can't wait to share it all with you. I'll do my best to post sometime tomorrow afternoon and let you know how it went. I wish you all Happy New Year. I hope you have a healthy, love-filled year ahead of you.